When the news broke on Tuesday morning that the Steelers had signed head coach Mike Tomlin to a three-year contract extension through the 2024 season, I was understandably thrilled.
Obviously, I was happy to see that Tomlin and his 145-78-1 career regular-season record would be around for at least the next four years; never a losing season and all that jazz—what’s not to like? As someone who craves stability and familiarity, I couldn’t have been happier. It just made sense, and it was so Steelers in how they released the news in a matter-of-fact way on a Tuesday morning with almost zero fanfare.
In addition to the clear-cut “duh” move of retaining one of the best and most successful coaches in the NFL, I was also excited to see the reactions, which I just knew were going to be off the chain, yo!
After spending all day Tuesday and part of Wednesday checking out Twitter, the various Steelers Facebook pages, the countless Steelers fan sites—-including Behind the Steel Curtain—podcasts and talk radio, I have come to the conclusion that—and this is a rough estimate—7.2 billion people had something to say about the Tomlin extension.
Seriously, every piece published about the signing was followed by hundreds and even thousands of people passionately sharing their opinions in the comments section. The article BTSC published about the new Tomlin deal garnered 359 comments (as of this writing). Speaking of BTSC and that article, there were obviously many people happy with the move, including someone who posted “#HireTomlin,” which immediately made me regret not thinking of it first.
Make no mistake, though, Tuesday was certainly a sad day for the #FireTomlin folks, but that didn’t mean they were silent.
Far from it.
For example, I saw the word “mediocrity, as in, “Oh, so we’re okay with three more years of mediocrity, huh? Good to know." thrown around like 4000 times. I believe “mediocrity” was used so much by Steelers fans, it was trending on Twitter by Tuesday evening.
Pro-Tomlin vs. anti-Tomlin wars soon began everywhere.
Of course, there were the “Name a better option” vs. “Did anyone know Chuck Noll (or Knoll) or Bill Cowher before he was hired?” fights. (Those battles are always fun and normally wind up in a stalemate.)
Sporadic “NO LOSING SEASONS!” vs. “No LoSiNg SeASoNs!!!!” skirmishes broke out all over the world in the hours after the announcement.
Naturally, the old-school “He only won with Cowher’s players!” soldiers came out, dressed head to toe in mid-’90s Steelers gear, and were looking to put the quiver and quake on anyone who disagreed. Someone on Twitter even put a twist on that old sentiment and said, “Tomlin won his Super Bowl with Cowher’s coordinators!” When you consider the fact that one of those coordinators was Bruce Arians, well, that’s going above and beyond to discredit Coach T.
The clock management folks—folks who haven’t taken a timeout since 2009—worked their two-minute drills beautifully.
The “Tomlin doesn’t have a coaching tree” contingent came out of the woodwork. I’m always taken aback when anyone uses that argument; at first, I’m like, “Gee, I never thought of it that way.” But once I come to my senses, I realize it’s illogical junk—kind of like something a lover throws at you when they know they’re losing an argument—and I move on.
Even the “I’ll wait” people made an appearance. Maybe you know those people. During the course of a debate over Mike Tomlin’s coaching prowess, for example, they may say something like, “When was the last time a Tomlin team blah, blah blah’d? I’ll wait.” When someone uses “I’ll wait” as a tag at the end of what they think is a good point, I always picture them prancing around their living room like a dog that just jumped up to catch a frisbee in mid-air.
The wishy-washy “I don’t think Tomlin should be fired, but I do think he should be held accountable” (whatever the heck that even means) fans also joined the fracas.
On Wednesday morning, the Morning Freak Show, a local Top-40 morning radio show, devoted multiple segments to reading the Facebook comments of fans unhappy about the signing—Cowher’s name was spelled Chowder and Cowman by a couple of these folks.
I’m normally so laser-focused (self-centered) about my own articles that I don’t pay attention to other stuff. However, I had such a glorious time checking out the countless reactions to the Tomlin extension, I’m still glowing and my mouth even hurts from all the grinning.
Thank you, Mike Tomlin, not only for being a great head coach but for always making a story a five-star matchup whenever you’re in it.